About the above image: The influence of painter Edward Hopper guided me to snap this as quickly as I could (This volunteer moved right after I took it). It reminded me of many of Hopper’s paintings and how they illustrate lonely and quiet postures, and long dramatic shadows. The portrait on the wall is Johnny Jones by Marti Corn.
The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is on display at the Tacoma Art Museum. If you are in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, go and spend a couple of hours and treat yourself to a fine exhibit.
Candidly speaking, portraiture is not my strength when it comes to photography, but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. And perhaps I’ve only been asked to do portraiture in the sense that someone needs a headshot or holiday cards made, as opposed to a photo where I collaborate with a subject to tell a greater story, which is what this exhibit does so very well. With each portrait, I found myself asking “Who is this person?” before the next question, “What choices did this artist make when considering how to present their subject, and why?”.
In the car ride home I unraveled my thoughts on the collection, about what I felt made it successful. In the end, the portraits that were chosen transcended the usual technical excellence and mainstream/popular visual aesthetic. With each, I met a person through their gaze, through their hair, or through how they held their hands. With each person, I became curious, my empathy and wonder feelers turned on high. Unlike viewing portraits that were commissioned hundreds of years ago to flatter a person in a high position, these were not just pretty portraits; these were lives. They are lives that are examples of many others like them that exist in this time, now, experiencing things I could experience or can relate to, or at least try to understand. They are not about status, but human existence.
To pique your curiosity, I decided to crop these phone pics of some of the work I saw on purpose. Seeing them in person is just more powerful, and they are totally worthy of your personal visit.
In an experiment to transfer a photo onto wood, I was left with the paper I had to rub off to expose the print. It was fairly successful, but not perfect. Of course, I then found the shreds more interesting.
If you’ve been interested in purchasing one of my art prints, or are looking for holiday gift ideas, stop by my Society6 store and have a look. There are several 24-Hour promotions* that you can take advantage of, including free shipping on everything! Here is what you can save and when:
Nov 23: $5 Off all Apparel (t-shirts, v-necks, long sleeves, hoodies, leggings, totes, carry-all pouches, biker tanks, tank tops). I don’t have a lot to offer in this area, but definitely check out all the other cool artists with fantastic work you can wear!
* All Promotions Start at 12:00 AM PT and End at 11:59 PM PT for the select date. All discounts automatically applied. No promo code needed.
Our trip to Mexico City was filled with art and culture. When others go to the beach to forget and relax, we travel to discover and learn about subjects new and different from our own. While wandering the streets, a banner ad for the exhibit El arte de la indumentaria y la moda en Mexico, 1940-2015 caught our eye. So we popped in. Admission was free to explore this lovely building, where there were two floors filled with beautiful dresses. They were stunning, traditional, historical, daring, of-their-decade, and just fascinating to study. Students of fashion were walking around with sketch pads and cameras studying each piece. One student seemed to be photographing the same ones I was interested in. I remember him making a comment to me in Spanish that we seemed to like the same styles.
Fashion is not something I really keep up with at all, but I appreciate the art and skill designers have to manifest their visions. I enjoy exploring different areas of art and creativity. Areas I couldn’t do because it just isn’t my natural talent. It helps me stay curious and grow in the kinds of visions I can have for my work.
I’ve been working on a project that I hope will help bring in a little extra money. I’ve joined a legion of other artists on Society6, where my work is available for sale in the form of prints, canvas art, tote bags, shower curtains, duvet covers, phone covers, tapestries, clocks, and more. The great thing is that they do all the production and shipping, and I simply upload my work. For every item sold I get some profit from it. I get a kick out of seeing my work transform into different shapes, sizes, and textures.
Feel free to share this link through your social media!
The other day, I took a trip to the local Fisherman’s Terminal to pick up some salmon for dinner, and thought it might be fun to do a short photowalk through the shipyard. September has been cool and sunny, and the light gentle, yet intense. It turned out to be a meditative escape in a playground of shapes, texture, color, and light.
Sometimes I think I can take photographing for granted. With easy access to any kind of camera, we can capture what we want when we want. It’s easy. It’s fast. It can sometimes be more of a reactionary response, or a “this might look good” moment. I don’t discourage myself from just shooting because sometimes those moments turn out really well. Some of my favorite images are things I caught by luck or random happenstance. But the amount of snap-shot/just because photos I have can totally burn me out. I tend to get bored and frustrated. Where is the work I’m dying to make? The work that really stands out for me that isn’t just another random image? That’s when I realized: My mind is not always in it’s prime state when taking photos. Simply put, there are times I am present with my camera and the moment, and there are times when I am not. I want to strive to be more present. Not only is this healthier for my mind, it yields my more thoughtful and impactful images.
As I continued my walk through the shipyard, I felt every step on the wooden pier, took a breath and stabilized my feet before every shutter release, thought about how a subject might look at different angles, remembered to consciously practice things I learned in school like hyper-focal distance focusing, and visualized how I might want to process a moment differently than how I saw it at that moment. I was patient with myself. I let myself try. It was one of my more immersive photo walk experiences. I was eager to edit what I had shot, because I knew I had good things to share.
So, I’d like to ask you: What intention (if any) do you set for yourself when you go out shooting? When do you think you feel disconnected from your work? When do you feel connected with your work? Do you practice a sort of mindfulness when you are shooting? And just for fun, where are some places in your hometown that you can always go to to explore your creative seeing? As someone who can struggle with creativity and finding inspiration, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’ve had a collection of work up at Fresh Flours Bakery on Phinney Ridge focusing on abstract and travel photography. They’re up through the end of this month, so if you haven’t already, grab a cuppa something and a tasty pastry (Trust me. They’re great pastries), and have a look. Contact me if you’re interested in any pieces or have any questions!
At the end of last year, when I decided to embark on the journey of doing photography as a full-time hobby with the hopes of making some money, I knew I’d need to find a way to promote my work and myself. And I’ll be the first to say that I’ve been dipping my toe into the ocean of uncertainty and pulling it out just as quickly when I got scared to make my next move, of any kind. But soon enough, I got that opportunity to hang my work at Wheelhouse Coffee and the rolling ball could not be stopped. Of all the things to be nervous about, I was nervous about having a business card I could have available for people to take. After all, the idea of showing work is about sharing your work with the general public in addition to getting your name out there and circulating. That’s the hope, anyway.
After trying to design my own brand, I quickly realized I needed professional help. First of all, I was going crazy with the blahness I was coming up with, and I was being stubborn about doing it myself. Second, I knew I wasn’t going to be entirely happy with what I’d come up with. I simply don’t immediately have the skills to pull this off. I also read somewhere that it’s okay to reach out, ask for help, and expect to pay some money for it.
I called on my good friend Michael Harring to help explore my identity and design a business card for me. It’s tough when the main thing you have to do is think about yourself. To help with a starting place, he walked me through some mood boards. He presented three boards and it was like looking at myself. Each one carried awesome elements I identified with and just loved. I could not have been more excited about the direction he was going with this. And without further ado, this is my very cool business card.
Mike suggested using different photographs of mine to print on the back – little samples and take-aways. I chose six of my favorites and he cropped and oriented them to fit and flatter. I could not be more happy with this result. It speaks to my personality and my aesthetic so well.
The entire process was like a dream. Maybe it’s because we’ve known each other for so long and I have complete trust in his sensibilities, work ethic, and his sincerity to make sure I was happy with the final product, but I would not hesitate to call on him for future work. And even though we’re friends, I offered to pay for his work, because he is a working artist, and working artists should be paid.
And with that, I will shamelessly plug his portfolio: www.michaelharring.com. He is indeed a Creative Monster.
I jumped into the car this morning and headed for the local beach. I’d been inspired by a friend’s recent post of the grove of trees that sit in the middle of the Golden Gardens park. I wondered what I could capture on a cloudy grey morning, a lot different from the blindingly blue 70 degree days we’ve had over the past few days. While I was out there, I was thinking of a lesson I’ve been taking on Fine Art Photography by Brook Shaden (via Creative Live).
One thing she talked about was self-critique. After visualizing an image, photographing it, and processing it, think about what worked. What didn’t work? What could you have done better? What did you learn? Today was definitely a learning experience. Below is a selection I feel good about with some notes about why I like them, why they could be better, and what I feel I could do better next time, etc.
Note: Click on the titles to see bigger views of these on my Flickr site.
Things I like about this image: I like that I saw the shape of a whale. The trees, to me, look like a whale or fish’s skeletal structure. I took this with a tripod. Something I’m still not used to doing, being more of a spontaneous street and abstract kind of shooter. I also like that the clouds cooperated and I was able to draw their shapes out in post.
Things I don’t like about this image: The shed and basketball hoop. I really liked the tree on the very left and didn’t want to crop it out, so I had to sacrifice leaving the shed and hoop in to get that full shape.
Things I like about this image: I thought about my depth of field. I took a few shots at different f-stops. I wanted the focus to be the mountain peak and thought about the idea of looking through the trees. I didn’t want the trunks super sharp, nor did I want them so fuzzy that they lost the definition in their edges. And again, I love the cloud coverage.
Things I don’t like about this image: This image is cropped quite a bit. Looking back, I should have zoomed to get this crop in camera.
Things I like about this image: As soon as the sun started to shine through and the shadows came out I already had this image titled. I saw it, I pre-visualized it and processed it how I wanted. I also like the sense of movement going from bottom left to mid right. It’s like the trees are walking slowly toward the horizon.
Things I could have done better: Shot in JPG. This entire set was shot in JPG and I didn’t realize it until I uploaded them (it happens). I could have had a better file to work with to get the texture I wanted in the ground. I mean, I’m pretty happy with it, but I think finer adjustments throughout would’ve made this a stronger image for me.
What I like about this image: How the trees and the bird look like they are standing at attention. Like the bird is directing the trees somehow.
What I don’t like about this image: Another big crop. This was something I liked after reviewing it and wasn’t sure what I expected while shooting. In this case, I was not totally pre-visualizing in the moment while shooting it.
What I like about this: The creation of triangles by tilting the camera. The texture from bottom to top.
What I don’t like: The poles in the sand. The poles were actually what drew me, but then I didn’t like them, in the end. Overall, not a great image for me. The boats look like they’re slipping out of the frame, but the masts are small and I think I’m reaching with this. Meh.
What I like about this image: Not too much. I like the birds flying around and the edge of the beach.
What I don’t like about this: I had trouble editing it to make it look more dreamy and dreadful. And I think it would have been better if there were some birds at different distances from my camera to show more depth. That said, I’m smart enough to not get that close to crows!
What I like about this image: I do not consider myself a strong landscape photographer, so the fact that I actually got out of the apartment to shoot this this morning is amazing to me. But seriously, I like how the clouds were blanketing the mountain range at different depths and that the sun was highlighting the clouds in different shades. The choppy texture of the water adds to the overall feel of a blustery morning.
What I struggled with: I was using my kit lens to take this photo. Originally, I wanted the water to look more smooth, but I couldn’t settle into the settings of my camera and was impatient because it was really windy, cold, and I had a trouble seeing the screen on the back of my camera. Also, while editing I noticed lots of dust that probably came from the filter that I grabbed out of storage (dusty), so I edited a lot of those dust marks out. I also think I would define the edges of the range more, but still preserve the nice dark grey that separates each mountain from the other.
Overall, I had a decent time out in the cold and getting the chance to take advantage of a near-empty park on a weekday morning. I’ll keep learning and critiquing and giving myself the time to digest and understand why I make the images I do. The takeaway from Ms. Shaden’s lesson was that the better you understand your inspiration, motivation, and why you like an image, the better you can take negative feedback. That way, when you share your work, you can defend your work conceptually and technically to others. This way of thinking may come naturally to some, but it has completely given me a new way to look at what I do and why, and I’m so glad I found it! I think this advice is great for those starting out in any creative endeavor, when you feel art is an extension of yourself. Build your confidence. Understand your inspiration and motivation. Self-critique before letting others critique you.
Today, I felt inspired to either sketch or paint. I’m not really any good at either. When I opened up my pad of newsprint. I found some cutouts I’ve used for collages, and one was sitting on top of some ink marks (I think I was trying a pen nib). I thought it looked cool and wondered if I could play with integrating a sketch with a cutout. I came up with some ideas, and photographed them.